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Politics and religion should not be mixed, says Mamata Banerjee

IANS | Kolkata |

Asserting that politics and religion should not be mixed, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday took a dig at the state BJP leaders who participated in the Ram Navami celebrations saying politicians who walked with arms in the name of Puja are unaware of true Indian culture.

"These celebrations are happening for thousands of years. But why would political parties and leaders get involved. Politics and religion should not be mixed," Banerjee said at a meeting at Asansol where she declared West Bardhaman as the 23rd district of the state.

"Let alone Bengal, they are not aware of the culture of this nation. If they knew the true tradition and culture they would have worshipped the God in the temple rather than trying to scare people by walking on the street carrying swords," she said.

The Trinamool chief further claimed that rallying with swords has no connection to religion but only depicts a picture of violence.

"During Durga Puja, mothers and sisters of our land play with vermilion to bring peace and prosperity but these political leaders are playing with swords," she said.

Massive rallies were organised by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliates like Hindu Jagran Manch across the eastern state on Wednesday in never-before grandiose Ram Navami celebrations which saw thousands of Hindu activists, including school children, walking on the road brandishing sticks and sharp weapons.

Most of the senior state Bharatiya Janata Party leaders took part in the processions, with a number of them carrying arms. The party's state President Dilip Ghosh, who is also an MLA from West Midnapore district's Khargapur, was seen leading one such rally in his constituency holding aloft a sword.

Banerjee on Thursday said the law would take its course against political leaders who carried arms without police permission. Hours after her warning, the Kolkata and state police filed suo moto cases against the organisers of armed rallies, including state BJP President Ghosh.

Accusing BJP of trying to polarise the people in Bengal, Banerjee said she would not tolerate any attempts to incite a communal riot and the offenders would have to face the consequences.

"What is this new drama by BJP. I am okay with everything. But I will not tolerate riots in the state. If anyone tries to fuel communal violence, they would have to take the responsibility and face the consequences," she added.